At the last Preston Center Task Force Meeting, TXDoT spoke about their progress repaving of Preston Road and my ears were pricked. Preston Road was originally constructed with concrete and is now (again) being over-paved in Asphalt. It’s been going on for years, but why? Other roads like Greenville are being repaired in concrete.
The federal government reports that concrete roadways last an average of 2.5 times longer than asphalt. Another report states that concrete lasts 27.5 years before major repair while asphalt only lasts 15.5 years. Non-highway roadways can have a life expectancy of over 60 years (how old is Preston Road’s concrete?). Long-term, concrete roadways can save 19 percent in maintenance costs over asphalt.
Astonishingly, concrete roadways claim to boost heavy truck mileage by 20 percent. Concrete also doesn’t rut or pothole in the same way and because it retains its flat surface that reduces pooling, is less slippery in wet weather. This reduces the amount of downtime spent rerouting traffic around repair crews and traffic accidents. Over time, softer asphalt also creates rippling in the pavement that makes lane changes … bouncy … and potentially more dangerous.
Black asphalt is a petroleum-based material that absorbs heat, adding to the creation of heat islands. Also because asphalt is made from petroleum, vehicle oil leaks damage roads where concrete is largely unaffected.
So in every measurement except initial installation costs, concrete is the cheaper, better weathering option.
Aesthetically, over-paving misaligns other roadway components. As in the first picture, curbs and gutters no longer line up with the road. Manhole covers and other surface access covers are often recessed or paved over only to quickly fall apart.
In decades past, government made better decisions based on overall long-term costs. When did the quick-fix just become the fix? Why is that?
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